There an interesting extract in Roger McNamee’s Zucked about the position Sandy Parakilas found himself in as an operations manager for Facebook platform, with responsibility for user privacy in relation to third party apps. From loc 2684:
In classic Facebook style, the company installed an inexperienced and untested recent graduate in a position of great responsibility, a position to which other companies would have traditionally assigned someone with meaningful relevant experience. The job did not contribute to growth, which meant it would not be a high priority inside Facebook. In fact, the task of protecting user privacy would internally be viewed as a form of friction—which put Sandy in a very difficult position.
What’s it like to be a source of friction in a company that wants to move fast and break things? Who will be place in these roles and how much support will they receive? It is a company which prioritises creative responses to problems over experience of them, leaving those problems which are intractable features of organisation life with a difficult status. From loc 2713:
At Facebook, figuring it out is a way of life. The company got its start with a bunch of Harvard undergraduates who knew how to code but had almost no experience with anything else. They figured it out. Each new wave of employees followed the same path. Some took too long and were pushed out. The rest got comfortable with the notion that experience was not helpful. At Facebook, the winners were people who could solve any problem they encountered. The downside of this model is that it encourages employees to circumvent anything inconvenient or hard to fix.
Antipathy towards constraint is more pronounced in the culture of a firm like Facebook, explicit within its trajectory of growth rather than implicit in its material interests. Its focus upon growth at all costs sits uneasily with regulatory requirements and safeguarding obligations, even if the impact failures in these areas have on growth mean they are now being forced to take them more seriously.